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Pessimistic View Of The Ancient Hindus
In addition to this, the new theory of matter has entirely ov...

The Fourth Patriarch And The Emperor Tai Tsung (tai-so)
The Third[FN#40] Patriarch was succeeded by Tao Sin (Do-shin)...

Idealism Is A Potent Medicine For Self-created Mental Disease
In so far as Buddhist idealism refers to the world of sense, ...

Zen Is Not Nihilistic
Zen judged from ancient Zen masters' aphorisms may seem, at t...

The Examination Of The Notion Of Self
The belief in immortality is based on the strong instinct of ...

Idealistic Scepticism Concerning Religion And Morality
Similarly, it is the case with religion and morality. If we ...

Life Consists In Conflict
Life consists in conflict. So long as man remains a social a...

Life Change And Hope
The doctrine of Transcience never drives us to the pessimisti...

Three Important Elements Of Zen
To understand how Zen developed during some four hundred year...

The Betterment Of Life
Again, people nowadays seem to feel keenly the wound of the ...

Life And Change
Transformation and change are the essential features of life;...

Everything Is Living According To Zen
Everything alive has a strong innate tendency to preserve its...

The Eternal Life As Taught By Professor Munsterberg
Some philosophical pessimists undervalue life simply because ...

Life And Change
A peculiar phase of life is change which appears in the form ...

The Great Person And Small Person
For these reasons Zen proposes to call man Buddha-natured or ...

Where Then Does The Error Lie?
Where, then, does the error lie in the four possible proposit...

The Law Of Balance In Life
It is also the case with human affairs. Social positions hig...

Difficulties Are No Match For The Optimist
How can we suppose that we, the children of Buddha, are put a...

The Irrationality Of The Belief Of Immortality
Occidental minds believe in a mysterious entity under the nam...

The Creative Force Of Nature And Humanity
The innate tendency of self-preservation, which manifests its...




The Errors Of Philosophical Pessimists And Religious Optimists








Philosophical pessimists[FN#214] maintain that there are on earth
many more causes of pain than of pleasure; and that pain exists
positively, but pleasure is a mere absence of pain because we are
conscious of sickness but not of health; of loss, but not of
possession. On the contrary, religious optimists insist that there
must not be any evil in God's universe, that evil has no independent
nature, but simply denotes a privation of good--that is, evil is
null, is nought, is silence implying sound.'


[FN#214] Schopenhauer, 'The World as Will and Idea' (R. B. Haldane
and J. Kemp's translation, vol. iii., pp. 384-386); Hartman,
'Philosophy of the Unconsciousness' (W. C. Coupland's translation,
vol. iii., pp. 12-119).


No matter what these one-sided observers' opinion may be, we are
certain that we experience good as well as evil, and feel pain and
pleasure as well. Neither can we alleviate the real sufferings of
the sick by telling them that sickness is no other than the absence
of health, nor can we make the poor a whit richer by telling them
that poverty is a mere absence of riches. How could we save the
dying by persuading them that death is a bare privation of life? Is
it possible to dispirit the happy by telling them that happiness is
unreal, or make the fortunate miserable by telling them that fortune
has no objective reality, or to make one welcome evil by telling one
that it is only the absence of good?

You must admit there are no definite external causes of pain nor
those of pleasure, for one and the same thing causes pain at one time
and pleasure at another. A cause of delight to one person turns out
to be that of aversion to another. A dying miser might revive at the
sight of gold, yet a Diogenes would pass without noticing it. Cigars
and wine are blessed gifts of heaven to the intemperate,[FN#215] but
accursed poison to the temperate. Some might enjoy a long life, but
others would heartily desire to curtail it. Some might groan under a
slight indisposition, while others would whistle away a life of
serious disease. An Epicure might be taken prisoner by poverty, yet
an Epictetus would fearlessly face and vanquish him. How, then, do
you distinguish the real cause of pain from that of pleasure? How do
you know the causes of one are more numerous than the causes of the
other?


[FN#215] The author of Han Shu (Kan Sho) calls spirits the gift of
Heaven.


Expose thermometers of several kinds to one and the same temperature.
One will indicate, say, 60, another as high as 100, another as low as
15. Expose the thermometers of human sensibilities, which are of
myriads of different kinds, to one and the same temperature of
environment. None of them will indicate the same degrees. In one
and the same climate, which we think moderate, the Eskimo would be
washed with perspiration, while the Hindu would shudder with cold.
Similarly, under one and the same circumstance some might be
extremely miserable and think it unbearable, yet others would be
contented and happy. Therefore we may safely conclude that there are
no definite external causes of pain and pleasure, and that there must
be internal causes which modify the external.






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Previous: Epicureanism And Life



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